If you’re working on becoming more environmentally conscious, or you’re looking for some practical ways to help protect our planet, switching to sustainable footwear is a great first step (no pun intended). Buying sustainable shoes is an easy change you can make on any budget — and lucky for you, we’ve made a list of the eleven best options for women to get you started!
11 Best Sustainable Shoes for Women
Allbirds is on a mission to create sustainable shoes that utilize natural (and renewable) materials, which is why these Tree Toppers are made with silky eucalyptus fiber that’s been responsibly sourced from FSC Certified forests. This high-top style is also equipped with carbon neutral features like a Brazilian sugarcane midsole and castor bean oil insole, as well as 100% post-consumer recycled polyester shoelaces for the ultimate eco-friendly add-on.
Sustainability: Certified B Corporation, natural and recycled materials, carbon neutral
Price range: starting at $115.00
VEJA is a noted leader in ethical and sustainable shoe production. Over the years, they’ve continued to innovate their sneakers, using vegetables to tan leather and creating fabric made out of discarded plastic bottles found on the streets of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Brazil. What’s more, VEJA buys organic materials from fair trade family farms in the Amazon, and teams up with a charity who employs marginalized people to help them reintegrate into society.
Sustainability: vegan and organic materials, zero waste practices, low energy production
Price range: starting at $150.00
These gorgeous slip on shoes are made from soft, buttery leather — Leather Working Group Certified — that will gently conform to your foot and pack flat in your luggage. These shoes also offer a memory foam, shock-absorbing insole, in addition to a waterproof leather upper and durable heel cap. On top of all that, Nisolo is actively working to combat climate change by offsetting 100% of their carbon emissions, verified by their Climate Neutral Certification.
Sustainability: Certified B Corporation, net zero carbon emissions, 100% living wages
Price range: starting at $100.00
Sanuk is no stranger to green footwear, as they’ve paved the way for using vegan materials and recycled ingredients for many years now. To counteract the environmental destruction caused by the fast fashion industry, Sanuk also offers tons of styles (like the Pair O Dice) that are machine washable to help extend the life cycle of each pair. This shoe features a soft canvas upper, ultra flexible rubber cupsole, and the brand’s custom Yoga Mat drop-in comfort.
Sustainability: natural and recycled materials, vegan options, conservation of water and energy
Price range: starting at $22.95
TOMS might be one of the most recognizable brands on our list, but they’ve certainly grown a lot since their original designs were released back in 2006. Today, TOMS uses a third of their profits to support people who are building equity at the grassroots level, and has prioritized sustainability in all their latest collections. The Paxton comes with an OrthoLite Eco LT Hybrid™ insole that’s made with 26% eco-friendly content, including 5% recycled materials.
Sustainability: Certified B Corporation, fair labor and wages, recycled fabrics and packaging
Price range: starting at $34.97
The Rbutus from SKYE footwear is a unisex, sustainable design that’s been ergonomically engineered for maximum comfort and ease of wear. Not only is this shoe made from 80% recycled plastic waste, but the recyclable foam rubber provides midsole cushioning for all kinds of outdoor adventures. These no-tie sneakers also offer four-way stretch and a sculpted insole that conforms to your unique shape with every step you take, so they’re ready to tag along wherever you go.
Sustainability: recycled, recyclable, and biodegradable materials
Price range: starting at $135.00
It can be tough to find a great pair of vegan boots at a reasonable price, but Will’s Vegan Shoes has managed to create styles that are both beautiful and affordable. These Chelsea boots are crafted with Italian vegan leather, which is a plant-based material sourced from organic cereal crops sustainably grown in Northern Europe. And when you order shoes from Will’s Vegan, they’ll be delivered to you via their eco-friendly, plastic free, and carbon neutral supply chain.
Sustainability: vegan materials, ethical production, carbon neutral practices
Price range: starting at $128.00
The Loafer is a modern version of a classic shape that effortlessly combines comfort with style. Just like all of Rothy’s footwear, this shoe is shaped by 3D knitting, a process where a digital design transforms into a tangible piece of clothing. Additionally, The Loafer is made from the brand’s signature thread — that is, spun recycled water bottles and ocean-bound plastic. To date, Rothy’s has diverted more than 100 tons of single-use plastics from our global waterways!
Sustainability: recycled materials, sustainable packaging, vegan options, fair labor practices
Price range: starting at $165.00
The Fair Dancer from Ethletic is a cross between a sneaker and a ballet flat, with added arch support for comfortable, long-term wear. But unlike other flats, these shoes are made from FLO Certified Fairtrade twill cotton that’s sourced from small farmers in India; similarly, the sole is made out of FSC Certified fairly traded rubber from small farms in Sri Lanka. It’s safe to say Ethletic is doing their part to utilize sustainable resources however and wherever they can.
Sustainability: certified Fairtrade supply chains, raw and renewable materials, vegan options
Price range: starting at $54.60
Superga is a beloved Italian shoe brand that has recently expanded into the world of sustainable sneakers. Their environmentally conscious styles are made using quality organic cotton and hemp, as well as a natural rubber outsole for incredible traction, comfort, and durability (i.e. all day wear). This particular shoe is actually an updated version of Superga’s classic 2750 design, while still staying true to its popular lace up front and metal eyelets for a customizable fit.
Sustainability: natural and organic materials
Price range: starting at $70.71
This leather sneaker is part of an entire PETA-approved vegan collection from Matisse, with all kinds of designs that are equal parts trendy and inexpensive. The slip on shape makes for easy wear, and the embossed finish gives these shoes a luxe, chic feel. In addition to sourcing vegan materials, Matisse is committed to using sustainable practices and small-scale production (in family-owned factories), meaning they’re taking true ownership of their environmental impact.
Sustainability: PETA-approved vegan materials, small scale production, fair labor practices
Price range: starting at $32.00
What shoe brands are the most ethical?
Among the most ethical shoe brands on the market today are VEJA, Nisolo, Allbirds, Rothy’s, Everlane, and ABLE. Each of these companies has been praised for their choice of sustainable materials, fair labor practices, and ethical production of their footwear lines and beyond.
What makes a shoe ‘sustainable’?
The materials a shoe is made from and the working conditions it’s produced under have a huge impact on the overall sustainability. In general, sustainable shoe materials include things such as natural fibers (like cotton, wool, and eucalyptus) and recycled or upcycled ingredients (like repurposed plastics). Sustainable working conditions, then, relate to the shoe’s energy production, labor standards, and the level of carbon emissions its facility creates.
How much should I expect to spend on a sustainable shoe?
You don’t have to break the bank when buying a quality, sustainable shoe. The truth is, you can find great styles for as little as $20 or $30, while certain boot or sneaker designs may run between $100 and $150. With that said, there’s definitely something out there for every budget!